What do you define as paradise?
To us, paradise is relaxing on a white sand beach, feeling the sand between your toes, immersing yourself in crystal clear waters, waking up to the sound of the sea and never once looking at the time. Introducing, The Whitsundays in Queensland, Australia and what better way to experience it than on a boat!
In fact, sailing the Whitsundays on Powerplay, over the course of 3 days and 2 nights was paradise. Here is our experience on board and tips on how to choose the right Whitsundays cruise for you.
What are the Whitsundays?
The Whitsundays are made up of 74 picturesque islands along the central coast of Queensland. Although the majority of these islands are uninhabited, 7 of them have been developed with a range of upscale resorts & varying facilities. These islands offer some of the most incredible scenery Australia has to offer, most notably Whitehaven Beach, making it one of the most popular places in the southern hemisphere to jump on board a sailboat.
Choosing the right boat to cruise the Whitsundays
Have you ever felt like there were just too many options? Afraid to make the wrong choice? Spent hours looking up numerous websites and reviews?
We get it, it sounds all too familiar and we know the choices you make can make or break your holiday. After all, there are dozens of boats to choose from, for every type of traveller! You’ll find boats that sail with 6 people & boats that sail with over 50. Boats that party and boats that don’t.
So what is it that you really want?
To help with your choice, we recommend asking yourself some of these basic questions:
- Do you want to party or just socialise? Or neither?
- Do you have children?
- How old are you?
- What is your budget?
- How many passengers do you want on board?
- Do you want a catamaran or a sailboat?
By answering these you’ll automatically cancel out more than 1/2 of the options, making it far easier to decide.
Why we chose Powerplay
After a process of elimination using the questions above, we chose Sailing Whitsundays‘ Powerplay as it ticked every box and then some. They describe the experience quite nicely on their website.
“Powerplay will take you on the ride of your life through the beautiful Whitsunday Islands for fun, relaxation and adventure!”
Powerplay is a 12m catamaran with capacity for just 18 passengers. For us, a couple in our 30’s, this was one of the biggest selling points. We knew we didn’t want to party until all hours of the night but we still wanted to socialise. 18 people was enough to create an atmosphere but not too many that you felt cramped. The trip was the perfect combination of relaxing and socialising without the hardcore partying.
There was a mix of couples and single, like-minded travellers, all there for the same reason. The average age on our sail was between 20-30 with people from all over the world, most notably European, Australian and North American. It was exactly what we were looking for.
Second, to the number of passengers, we wanted the stability of being on a catamaran. I don’t do well with motion sickness so a sturdier boat was preferred. The catamaran felt stable at all times, even whilst we were sleeping. Total win.
Powerplay Sailing Whitsundays Review
Life on board Powerplay was simple, effortless and filled with fun. It may have helped that we had stellar weather, an awesome crew, scrumptious food, comfortable rooms, action-filled days and ample space. All of this combined is a recipe for a good time.
The Boat’s Layout
When we first saw Powerplay docked in the marina, it looked small, but don’t judge a book by its cover. Powerplay had plenty of room for 18 people + crew. There was a large dining area, plus an outdoor deck with further seating and a generous sized front deck with 2 nets for sunbaking- our favourite part of the boat! There were also ledges at the back of the boat which gave you easy access in and out of the water and extra seating on the top deck where el capitán took charge.
Sleeping & Hygiene
When booking Powerplay you have the option to choose between 3 sleeping arrangements:
- Single shared accommodation
- Shared double
- Private double
Obviously, the price changes with the room you choose. It was not until the first night that we realised the living area actually turned into the “single shared sleeping area”. The tables collapsed and turned into double beds and single beds were spaced out around the top (shown above). On either side of the boat under the deck, there are 2 shared double rooms and 2 private rooms. In the shared double there is a curtain to have privacy. Keep in mind, you’re rarely in these rooms aside from sleeping!
The toilet and shower are joined in one room and you’ll have a hot shower at the end of your day. Showers are limited to only 1 minute per person, so don’t be the jerk that runs the boat out of the water! 1 minute was plenty to rinse off and get clean. Keep it basic!
Food on Board
You know you’ve had a good cruise when you get off thinking about the food. We’re not food snobs by any means, but boy do we love to eat (no shame guys, no shame). We’ve been on dozens of cruises before and unfortunately, it’s common to be let down with the quality of food. Let’s be real here, food makes up a large portion of your day!
There’s only so much room to work with on a boat of this size but it didn’t stop the crew from smashing out solid meals throughout the whole trip. Waking up to the smell of bacon, eggs and hot coffee for breakfast was the best! Alongside cereal, toast, english muffins, fruit salad, yoghurt and muesli. Lunch was a combination of sandwiches, salads, wraps and fresh fruit.
Vegetable sticks, biscuits, dips, cheese, crackers & nachos (omg the nachos!) for sunset snacks and then there was dinner (if you weren’t already exploding). A full bbq dinner both nights, including fish, steak, chicken, sausages, potato bake, mushrooms, sweet potato mash, salads and then topped off with a cake for dessert. Let’s just say we slept pretty well both nights!
How we spent our days in the Whitsundays
Eat when food is given to you, sleep when you’re tired, swim when you’re hot. Pretty simple right?
Each morning, we woke up at sunrise to enjoy a freshly cooked breakfast and a cup of coffee with the pure peace and quiet of our surroundings. There was plenty of downtime throughout the day to catch the rays, read a book, have a chat, sip a beer and when we hit the destination for the day, jump in the water for a swim and snorkel. The fish and coral were amazing, especially at Butterfly Bay. If you’re lucky, you may encounter turtles and dolphins, both of which we did.
One of my favourite aspects of Powerplay was the large number of paddle boards and kayaks available. You weren’t forced to wait around for the use of a board or kayak, there was plenty to go around and everyone took it in turns.
Once the sun went down, things quietened down on the boat. We all gathered around talking, playing Jenga, learning the variety of Uno rules from around the world and then had the option of soaking up the bubbles in the heated jacuzzi on the front deck. On a past sail, somehow they managed to fit 13 people in there! We didn’t come close 😉 but give it a try and let us know if you succeed!
The Highlight: Whitehaven Beach
There is no doubt the highlight (& main reason) you take a trip to the Whitsundays is to visit one of the world’s most photographed beaches, Whitehaven Beach.
Whitehaven Beach is located in the heart of the Great Barrier Reef and is protected by the Whitsunday Islands National Park. This beach stretches 7km long and is made up of a swirling magical fusion of turquoise hues, delicate white sand and transparent water. There’s no photoshop or filter needed for this beach; what you see is exactly what you get! Breathtaking is an understatement.
The best part about being on Powerplay was the opportunity to visit this beach early in the morning before the hoards of other tourists appeared. It was like chalk and cheese from when we arrived to when we left. We docked our boat on the other side of the island in Tounge Bay at 8:00 am and had a short, 10-minute walk stroll to the centre of the island. You can carry on directly towards the beach or walk 10 minutes along a bush track to the main viewpoint, Hill Inlet. Prepare yourselves.
Whitehaven Beach changes immensely between the low and high tides so we’d strongly recommend visiting Hill Inlet when you first arrive and when you leave, for an entirely different view of the beach. Your skipper will tell you the tide times when you arrive. We were allocated a total of 3 hours of which was plenty of time to relax, take 750 photos, relax some more and swim. Keep an eye out for the friendly manta rays who often make an appearance in the shallow waters!
Did you know? Whitehaven is made of 98% pure silica unlike most beaches in the world. No wonder the sand was so soft!
Birds Eye View
If you don’t have a drone, we would definitely recommend taking the opportunity to fly over Whitehaven Beach in a seaplane or helicopter for a completely different, yet extremely impressive view from above. It was mind-boggling to see the swirls and patterns of the sand change with the tide. No day, nor any picture is ever the same of Whitehaven Beach. Fun fact for the day.
Sexy and You Know It
Some of you may be wondering why we’re wearing these incredibly fashionable wetsuits in the water. Apart from looking downright sexy, we’re actually wearing them as a form of precaution from two very dangerous types of jellyfish, Box Jellyfish and Irukandji. The latter being impossible to see (as small as your small fingernail). If bitten, there can be deadly consequences and intense pain. Wearing the “stinger suits” (which might I add are much lighter than wetsuits), as well as flippers when snorkelling reduces the risk of dangerous stings by up to 90%.
The official ‘stinger season’ is between October – May, therefore, there is a strong possibility you’ll be sharing your swimming space with these bad boys.
Putting the wetsuits on and off every time we wanted to jump in the water did take some of the “fun” out of swimming, but the alternative of being stung was far worse. It doesn’t change the scenery or the experience by wearing them. Work with it, protect yourself and don’t let it ruin your trip. That parts on you!
Note: All boats require you to wear stringer suits for your own protection, not just Powerplay. The suits are provided with the boat, so you do not need to provide your own.
Tips For Powerplay
- Come hungry & don’t bring any snacks on board – you definitely won’t need them! They’re also extremely good with dietary requirements.
- Pack a small bag with a change of clothes, a light jacket for the evenings, beach towel, swimmers, toiletries, sunscreen & bug spray. Don’t bring your whole suitcase! There simply isn’t enough room.
- Powerplay allows you to bring your own alcohol (no glass or red wine). There are large coolers to keep your drinks cold over the course of the 3 days.
- If you’re prone to seasickness, bring motion sickness tablets. It isn’t too bad on a catamaran but it’s better to be safe than sorry as there’s nowhere to get anything once you leave the town.
- You can charge your electronics during breakfast and dinner when the generator is on so no need to bring multiple battery packs.
- Linen and bath towels are provided.
Thank you Powerplay for showing us the Whitsundays in style!
Disclaimer: This trip was made possible in collaboration with Sailing Whitsundays, however, as usual, all opinions, thoughts and sunburn remain our own.